Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Das Truthahn Ist Sehr Gut: Turkey with Riesling & Sauerkraut

Our last name being "Fredrich" and all, you may have already guessed that there's a bit of German heritage floating around in Peef's veins.  We probably pay homage to that heritage best in the summertime when drinking a nice dark brew & indulging in one of those awesome Wisconsin bratwurst with kraut.  However, this year's turkey feast makes me wonder if we should capitalize on that heritage a bit more often.

Peef first spied the recipe for Turkey with Sauerkraut, Riesling, and Pork Sausages in the latest issue of Saveur magazine.

"You've got to take a look at this,"  Peef said, with that tell-tale drooly look on his face that not-so-secretly declared that he'd experienced love at first sight.

I perused the recipe, first noticing that it called for four pounds of raw sauerkraut.  FOUR POUNDS.  I almost shut down right then and there. After all, four pounds of high quality raw kraut could run upwards of $50 in these parts... unless of course, you know someone who's brewing up a nice 5 gallon crock of fresh kraut made with local cabbage.  Heh. 

I immediately emailed my friend Steph to see if she could part with four pounds of her kraut. Upon her affirmative response, the challenge was ON.

Turkey. Check.
Onions. Check.
Bottles of Riesling. Check.
Locally grown Black Willow Twig apples. Check.

Once we had gathered all the ingredients and thawed the turkey, the process was simple.   There was no brine. No overnight marination. No puttering or futzing.  Just a few simple steps.

First, we chopped up 3-4 of the Black Willow Twig apples into julienned strips.  We mixed the apples with drained sauerkraut and set that mixture aside. We made a bouquet garni with garlic, juniper berries, cloves, thyme, and parsley and tossed it into a large roasting pan. After cleaning and seasoning it, the turkey was stuffed with the sauerkraut-apple mixture and laid atop a bed of Riesling-infused onions, slab bacon, and more sauerkraut. It was topped with more strips of bacon, tightly covered in a cloak of parchment paper and aluminum foil, and left to roast for 3 hours in a 350 degree oven.

We joked that our house was sure to smell like a nursing home with all that kraut cooking away in the oven.  But, the truth is, it wasn't until the last half-hour of baking that we began to smell the delicious odor of the roasted bird -- seeping quietly and subtly out from under the oven door.  It was like a perfume.  Barely sweet, scented with juniper and garlic, and not nearly as "cabbagey" as I'd expected.

It was the easiest turkey I've ever made. And quite possibly one of the most delicious.  The breast meat was meltingly tender, and the dark meat was succulent -- vaguely redolent of the sweetness of the apples, the savory notes of the saurkraut, and the perfume of those mysteriously piney juniper berries, it was a perfect match for the bottle of German Riesling we chose to serve with dinner.
Served here alongside a very delicious herbed stuffing (Peef declared it the "best stuffing ever") with mustard greens and some of that deliciously tender kraut.

Turkey with Riesling & Sauerkraut

Herbed Stuffing with Mustard Greens

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  1. Riesling-infused onions. Nice touch!

  2. Ihnen gute Nahrung, feinen Wein und viel Liebe auf Thanksgiving w√ľnschen.

    Or, something like that. Wishing you a wonderful holiday with food, friends and lots of fun. You definitely have the "food" part down!


  3. Melissa - Aww, thanks! I like to think we've got a good thing going in the viel Liebe department as well :) 12 year anniversary coming up on Saturday... yikes!

  4. Whoa this is definitely one of the most unique turkey recipes I've ever seen! And four pounds of sauerkraut. that is INTENSE. In SUCH a good way.

  5. I was expecting you to really buck tradition and make that for Thanksgiving. Looks like a great recipe and I can see why you wouldn't want to wait. I LOVE sauerkraut and I'm not even German (just a tad Swiss).

  6. Well, we had our Thanksgiving turkey dinner a bit early this year. We're actually going WAY non-traditional for our dinner on Thursday... ;)

  7. OH. MY. GOODNESS. Your description alone has me sitting here in a pool of drool. I love sauerkraut...4 pounds, though. Wowza. I wonder if it freezes well? I love that you did something different. The holidays should never ever put us in a box.

  8. looks really good. but no pork sausages?

    i slow-cooked pork loin - polish kielbasa - and FOUR LBS of sauerkraut once too. It seems like a lot but it was great.

  9. Looks like an incredible holiday feast! I just learned that I have quite a bit of German heritage myself...so maybe next year!


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